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Angela E. Smith: Details of research projects commissioned by the DCLG are available from our Research Management Database (RMD) at http:// www.rmd.communities.gov.uk. This includes information about the contractors and the cost of each individual project.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what previous connection Professor Stephen Crow of the Casino Advisory Panel has had with the Department in the past. 
Yvette Cooper: Between 1988 and his retirement in 1994, Stephen Crow was the Chief Planning Inspector of the Planning Inspectorate. Prior to his appointment as Chief Planning Inspector he was a field Inspector determining planning appeals and other casework. Since his retirement he has acted as independent chairperson of Examinations in Public into the following:
Regional Planning Guidance for the South-East (RPG 9) June 1999
Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Structure PlanJan 2001
Devon Joint Structure PlanJune 2003
Cornwall Structure PlanJuly 2003
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Joint Structure Plan June 2004
NW Regional Spatial Strategy amendments November 2004
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 27 June 2006 , Official Report, column 289W, on civil servants (expenses), how much of the expenditure on temporary overnight accommodation in London by civil servants was incurred on accommodation for civil servants in the Deputy Prime Ministers private office. 
It funded a research report published in 2003 by the New Economics Foundation and CDS Co-operatives;
It part-funded research by Community Finance Solutions of Salford university published by the Countryside Agency in 2005; and
It also announced on 22 June 2006 that it was providing £120,000 for practical research on pilot community land trusts by Community Finance Solutions.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Office Agencys (a) photography best practice guide and (b) COVO manual mentioned in clause 3.7.11, of Section 2 of the VOAs Council Tax Manual. 
The (a) best practice guide and (b) COVU manual mentioned in section 2, part 3.7.11, of the Valuation Office Agencys Council Tax Manual are internal technical instructions on use of the agencys digital photography application and how, when and where to store digital photographs on the agencys central database to ensure overall system performance is not affected. It is not appropriate to place these documents in the Library.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contracts her Department and its predecessors have entered into with (a) Infoterra Ltd. and (b) BlueSky International Ltd. since 1997. 
National Land Use Database Pilots 1 & 2: Creation of Urban and Rural Baseline Datasets;
National Land Use Database: County Demonstrator; and
Generalised Land Use Database: Pilot Phase.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 27 June 2006, Official Report, column 290W, on departmental staff, which Government Department will take over the use of the vacated office space at 26 Whitehall once her civil servants are relocated to Eland House. 
Angela E. Smith: Current plans are for the Department for Communities and Local Government to continue using 26 Whitehall as accommodation until the Departments occupancy agreement with the Cabinet Office comes to an end in March 2008. At present it is planned that staff moved from Eland Road to free accommodation for DCLG ministers and civil servants from 26 Whitehall will backfill the vacated office space.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what mechanism her Department has initiated for estimating the number of empty dwelling management orders issued by councils and property tribunals. 
Yvette Cooper: Local authorities are required to keep a register of all management orders made by them under the powers in the Housing Act 2004, including any empty dwelling management orders. The information must be made available for public inspection.
All applications from local housing authorities to make interim empty dwelling management orders must be authorised by a Residential Property Tribunal. The Residential Property Tribunal Service will record and publish on its website the decisions that the tribunals take. The Department will monitor this information.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent by her Department to local authorities on empty dwelling management orders and mentioned in her Department's press statement of 13 July issuing guidance on the procedures to be followed when taking control of a private sector home following the death of the owner. 
[holding answer 10 July 2006]: There are over half a million empty private sector homes in England. More than half of these remain empty for longer than six months and a significant proportion are
abandoned for years. Empty homes can quickly fall into disrepair and the longer they remain empty the more likely it is that they will become derelict and prohibitively expensive to bring back into use. Empty homes can create significant problems for local authorities, the police and fire services. They blight the homes of neighbouring residents, are vulnerable to squatters, vandals, drug-dealers and arsonists, are bad for the environment and restrict housing opportunities available to people in areas of high housing demand.
Our policy response is to promote effective empty homes strategies by local authorities that emphasise opportunities to work with property owners to find solutions that allow their properties to be brought back into use. We encourage local authorities to offer incentives ranging from advice on selling and letting property to grants and leasing arrangements. We have also introduced a range of fiscal incentive for owners of empty properties through VAT, capital allowances and council tax.
We consider that local authorities must, as a last resort, have access to effective enforcement procedures for long term empty properties where voluntary measures have been declined and owners cannot demonstrate that they intend to bring their properties back into use. Local authorities have access to compulsory purchase procedures to deal with empty homes and may enforce the sale of properties on which they have carried out works. We have recently introduced Empty Dwelling Management Orders as an alternative solution that protects the rights of property owners.
We work closely with the Empty Homes Agency, which is an independent charitable organisation that seeks to find effective solutions to the problems posed by empty homes. The Agency works closely with local authorities and has recently published guidance on setting effective empty homes strategies.
Angela E. Smith: The Government's Public Service Agreement (PSA) contains two targets for the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) in England. The first is to reduce the number of accidental fire-related deaths in the home by 20 per cent. averaged over the 11-year period to March 2010 compared with the average recorded in the five-year period to March 1999with a floor element that no local authority fire brigade will have a fatality rate more than 1.25 times the national average by March 2010. The second target is to reduce by 10 per cent. the number of deliberate fires by 31 March 2010 from the 2001-02 baseline figure.
The FRS is making good progress towards achieving this target. Latest provisional figures show that there were 216 deaths in the 12 months to 30 September 2005, 53 fewer then in the previous 12 months. This represents a fall of 20 per cent. At present five FRAs have more than 1.25 times the number of fatalities in the home than the national average. Deliberate primary
fires have also fallen in the latest 12 months, 67,900 were recorded. This is 28 per cent. below the 2010 PSA target of 94,000.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 16 May 2006, Official Report, column 924W, on the Fire Service, what estimate the Government have made of the number of armed forces personnel who have been trained to operate fire services appliances and equipment. 
Angela E. Smith: If the Government agree to the provision of emergency cover, the most readily available units are diverted from armed forces tasks and trained to operate fire service appliances and equipment prior to their deployment. There are no armed forces personnel on permanent standby or permanently trained to provide emergency fire cover.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of no-strike clauses in firefighters contracts; and if she will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith: Contracts of employment are a matter for individual fire and rescue authorities and pay and conditions of uniformed employees in the fire and rescue service are a matter for the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services.
Yvette Cooper: The HomeBuy scheme has three products available, based on equity sharing, which can help first time buyers to get a first step on the housing ladder. Social HomeBuy enables tenants of participating local authorities and housing associations to buy a share in the property in which they live; Open Market HomeBuy enables purchasers to buy a property on the open market with the help of an equity loan; and New Build HomeBuy, which includes the First Time Buyers Initiative, will enable purchasers to buy a share in a newly built property with public subsidy or on public sector land.
The First Time Buyers' Initiative is being developed by English Partnerships to deliver up to 15,000 new affordable homes across England by 2010 utilising public land where possible. About 4,500 of these homes will be in London, including up to 1,500 homes provided through the London Wide Initiative on publicly owned brownfield sites.
We are investing over £415 million in the Homebuy scheme in London through the Housing Corporation's
Affordable Housing Programme in London for 2006-08. This will deliver some 6,000 New Build HomeBuy homes, 740 Social HomeBuy sales and 5,000 Open Market HomeBuy sales.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department and its predecessors have given the Planning Inspectorate since May 1997 on residential development on gardens. 
Yvette Cooper: Planning Inspectors make judgments in the context of published policy and guidance. Since 1997, this would have included PPG3 and associated guidance carried forward from the previous administration and subsequent revisions to PPG3 and associated guidance since then.
|New build completions|
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